Asking your child's teacher the right questions

Darren Lim receiving his GCE O-Level examination results at Presbyterian High School on Jan 12. Finding out the other areas your child excels in beyond academics will help to build up his confidence.
Darren Lim receiving his GCE O-Level examination results at Presbyterian High School on Jan 12. Finding out the other areas your child excels in beyond academics will help to build up his confidence.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Go beyond academic progress, find out about your child's emotional development to ensure well-rounded learning

Don't just ask about your child's grades because report cards can tell you that.

Find out how he is coping emotionally too.

As a parent, what are some questions you tend to ask in your conversations with your child's teacher?

Are they: Is my child coping well in his studies? Does he need extra help? Is he falling behind in his work?

Conversations with teachers show that they want you to ask the following instead: Do you (teachers) know what motivates him? Which lesson does he enjoy the most?

When parents take an interest in areas beyond their child's academics, they get a more complete picture of how he is doing in school.

Here are the top five questions teachers hope parents will ask them.

Discuss with the teacher how you can best support him. Your child benefits most when what he learns in school is reinforced at home. Talk to your child so you know what makes him feel supported as well. If your child is in primary school, take time to read together with him to nurture his love for books.

IS HE NICE TO THE PEOPLE AROUND HIM?

Does he stand up for his friend who is being taunted? Help his classmate who is struggling with an assignment without being told by a teacher?

We want to encourage him to show kindness, care and consideration for those around him and to be a better person as he grows up.

DOES HE INTERACT WELL WITH HIS FRIENDS?

Is he a good team player? How does he perform when working with his friends on projects? Does he share his thoughts with others as well as listen to and accept different perspectives? When faced with a conflict, how does he react and is he able to resolve arguments?

The ability to communicate and collaborate effectively are important skills your child will need for the future, so find out from his teachers how you can develop his communication skills early.

WHAT ARE HIS STRENGTHS?

Beyond his academic progress (which can easily be ascertained by his scores), are there other areas that he excels in? He may be an engaging presenter, or his classmates may respect him because he leads them well in group tasks. Does he complete an assignment, no matter how much he is struggling with it?

Observe what your child's strengths are from everyday interactions at home, and affirm them. Your child's teachers will also help in building up his confidence and sense of self-worth.

HOW CAN I GROW MY CHILD'S INTEREST IN A SUBJECT?

My child finds Chinese lessons boring. How can I get him interested in the subject? This is vital because when a child has an interest in a subject, he will be motivated to find out more. Even if he encounters an obstacle in his learning, he is less inclined to give up immediately.

For example, if he cannot bring himself to pick up the Chinese textbook but loves music, why not introduce Mandarin popular songs as a way of exposing him to the language?

Parents or family members can also support the child's learning by being good role models, like conversing with your child in your mother tongue.

HOW CAN WE WORK TOGETHER TO HELP HIM?

Discuss with the teacher how you can best support him. Your child benefits most when what he learns in school is reinforced at home.

Talk to your child so you know what makes him feel supported as well. If your child is in primary school, take time to read together with him to nurture his love for books.

The habit of reading aids learning. Parents with older children can discuss the news with them to help them connect their learning to real-world events.

Teachers are also curious to know what your child is like at home - so share with them what you have observed about your child's habits and behaviours outside school. After all, parents know their children best. When teachers and parents work well together, the child wins.


•This piece first appeared in Schoolbag.sg, MOE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2018, with the headline 'Asking your child's teacher the right questions'. Print Edition | Subscribe